Shopping in San Francisco is a delightful experience with varied shopping centres, charming districts and wonderful malls to keep you interested.
Some of the city's best shopping is at its museums. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art store has an incredible selection of art books, posters, DVDs and other beautiful curios, while the Exploratorium offers an irresistible range of interactive toys, robots, experiment kits and other science themed media and curios. The Asian Art Museum has the city's best collection of books, fabrics, statues, bowls and jewellery in theme with its expansive exhibits on Asian art through the centuries.
For an authentic experience of Japanese culture with all the weird and wonderful shops that go along with it, visit Japan Center on Geary Street. This center, which meanders through several buildings on a second-storey skyway, contains dozens of stores selling everything from manga to traditional medicine. Coupled with the excellent sushi restaurants it's like being transplanted into Tokyo for the afternoon.
Union Square is home to top labels and boutiques. Haight and Ashbury Streets may have shed much of their hippy heritage with the area's steady gentrification but have still retained an eclectic selection of stores that make this area one of the most interesting to shop in. In a similar vein, Hayes Valley is also a good bet for galleries, boutiques and studios. Don't miss Chinatown for an incredible collection of Asian products, while Alemany Market and San Jose flea market - on the edge of town - offer a hugely varied range of goods.
The best of the many shopping malls are probably Westfield San Francisco Centre and Ghirardelli Square, Westfield having an emphasis on value stores and well-known brands, while Ghirardelli offers speciality stores and award-winning restaurants. Top purchases while in the city include music records and cds, books, giant fortune cookies and wine from the Napa Valley. Tax can be refunded if goods are shipped outside California; keep your receipts and enquire when departing at the airport.
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